Court of Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/22/2020
Format: 01/22/2020
Snake Steel, Inc. v. Holladay Construction Group, LLC
M2019-00322-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Ellen H. Lyle

A subcontractor sought statutory penalties against a prime contractor based on the contractor’s failure to comply with the Prompt Pay Act’s requirement that any retainage withheld be deposited into an interest-bearing escrow account as set forth in Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-34-104(a). The prime contractor moved to dismiss the complaint, asserting that the claim was barred by the one-year statute of limitations applicable to statutory penalties, Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-3-104(a)(1)(C). The trial court granted the prime contractor’s motion and dismissed the complaint. On appeal, we hold that the discovery rule applies to this type of claim for statutory penalties under the Prompt Pay Act and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/22/20
Nena Proffitt Valentine v. Fred Holt et al.
E2019-00186-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

The original plaintiff filed this action to set aside a quitclaim deed and died while the case was still pending. When no motion for substitution of party was filed within 90 days of the original plaintiff’s death being suggested on the record, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The original plaintiff’s son filed a response and requested that he be substituted as the plaintiff. Finding excusable neglect, the trial court denied the motion to dismiss and allowed the original plaintiff’s son to be substituted as the plaintiff. The trial court determined that the quitclaim deed was valid and conveyed to the defendants four tracts of land but did not convey a fifth tract due to an inadequate description of the property. The defendants appealed the trial court’s decision. We affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss, but we vacate the trial court’s decision regarding the adequacy of the property description and remand for further proceedings.

Cocke County Court of Appeals 01/22/20
Alexander J. Bynum, et al. v. Mark D. Sampson, et al.
W2019-00188-COA-R3-C
Authoring Judge: Chief Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor W. Michael Maloan

This appeal concerns an alleged breach of contract. Alexander Bynum and his father, Hal Bynum, (“the Bynums,” collectively) bought a slaughterhouse owned by Mark D. Sampson (“Defendant”) and his then-wife Kimberly Sampson (“the Sampsons,” collectively) and kept it running as Southern Chop Shop, LLC. The contract for sale provided that all plumbing systems would be in working order on the day of closing. A year after closing, the Bynums discovered a pipe on the property that was gushing animal blood straight from the kill floor of the slaughterhouse into a ditch. Defendant knew about but had not disclosed the pipe. The State became involved and demanded a halt to the discharge. When remedial efforts proved economically unfeasible, the Bynums shut down the slaughterhouse. The Bynums and Southern Chop Shop, LLC (“Plaintiffs,” collectively) sued the Sampsons for breach of contract in the Chancery Court for Weakley County (“the Trial Court”). The Trial Court found for Plaintiffs, ordering rescission or, if that is not possible, a monetary judgment against the Sampsons. Defendant appealed and argues that the plumbing system was in working order on the day of closing notwithstanding the blood-gushing pipe. We disagree and find that, contrary to the representations made by Defendant and relied upon by the Bynums, the plumbing system was not in working order on the day of closing. Defendant, therefore, breached the contract. We affirm the judgment of the Trial Court.

Weakley County Court of Appeals 01/21/20
Rose Coleman v. Bryan Olson
M2019-00176-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

This is the second time this dispute has been before this court. The appeal arises from a violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-4-106(d)(2), which prohibits a divorcing party from “canceling, modifying, terminating, assigning, or allowing the lapse” of any insurance policy that provides coverage to either spouse or their children without the consent of the other spouse, a court order, or abatement of the action. In this case, the wife modified her life insurance policy by replacing her husband with her mother as the sole beneficiary of the policy during the pendency of a divorce action and without the husband’s consent or a court order. The wife died one week later, which caused an abatement of the divorce action. After the insurance company remitted the proceeds of approximately $393,000 to the wife’s mother, the husband commenced this action to recover the proceeds. Following the first trial, the trial court found the wife intended to remove the husband and substitute their minor child as the insurance beneficiary, and it awarded the proceeds to the child. Both parties appealed. In the first appeal, we reversed the trial court and, after applying an equitable-balancing test, awarded the proceeds to the husband. See Coleman v. Olson, No. M2015-00823-COA-R3-CV, 2016 WL 6135395, at *15 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 20, 2016) [hereinafter Coleman I]. The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed our use of an equitable-balancing test but determined there was insufficient evidence to decide the merits on appeal. Coleman v. Olson, 551 S.W.3d 686, 697 (Tenn. 2018) [hereinafter Coleman II]. Thus, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to hear additional evidence and, after considering the equities of the parties, “remedy the violation of the statutory injunction by awarding all or a portion of the life insurance benefits to either or both parties.” Id. at 688. However, the Court did not identify the equitable factors to consider. Following an evidentiary hearing on remand, the trial court found the equities weighed in favor of the husband receiving the insurance proceeds. The wife’s mother appeals, contending the trial court erred in determining that the equities between the parties weighed in favor of depriving her of the insurance proceeds. We have determined that the trial court’s ruling was based on the erroneous determination that the court was limited to two options, enforcing the policy based on the beneficiary designation when the statutory injunction went into effect or enforcing the policy based on the beneficiary designation when the divorce action abated, instead of having the discretion to award a portion of the proceeds to each party based on the equities. Recognizing that the purpose of the § 106(d)(2) injunction was merely to preserve the status quo, not to make the ultimate determination of the rights of the parties to the proceeds, we have determined that the husband was entitled to an amount necessary to prevent an “unjust result” due to the wife’s inability to assist in caring for the parties’ minor child or to provide financial support to care for and educate the child until he reaches the age of majority. Having considered the financial benefits and burdens resulting from the wife’s death, we modify the judgment to award the husband a lump sum based on a support payment of $500.00 a month calculated from the month of the wife’s death until the minor child turns eighteen. Because the husband has been receiving a monthly payment of $500.00 since the trial court ordered the clerk of the court to remit such monthly payments out of the insurance proceeds on deposit with the clerk, the aggregate sum the husband has received from the clerk shall be deducted from the lump sum awarded to the husband. The wife’s mother shall be awarded the balance of the insurance proceeds on deposit with the clerk. We also vacate the judgment awarded against the wife’s mother and the award of prejudgment interest to the husband. The case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Montgomery County Court of Appeals 01/21/20
In Re C.L. Et Al.
E2018-02032-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Daniel G. Boyd

C.A. (petitioner) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of H.L. (mother) and R.L. (father) with respect to their two children, C.L. and A.L. (the children). The trial court found clear and convincing evidence to terminate mother and father’s parental rights on two grounds: abandonment by willful failure to support and persistent conditions. The court also found clear and convincing evidence that termination of mother and father’s parental rights is in the best interest of the children. Both parents appeal. We vacate the trial court’s finding that there is clear and convincing evidence to terminate mother and father’s parental rights on the ground of abandonment by willful failure to support. Nevertheless, we affirm the court’s order terminating mother and father’s parental rights because there is clear and convincing evidence that termination is supported by the ground of persistent conditions and is in the best interest of the children.

Hawkins County Court of Appeals 01/21/20
In Re Aubrie W.
E2019-00862-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John S. McLellan, III

This is an appeal from the termination of the father’s parental rights. The trial court found the petitioners had proved that the father abandoned the child by willfully failing to visit, willfully failing to support the child, and exhibiting conduct showing a wanton disregard for the child’s welfare and that termination of the father’s parental rights, was in the child’s best interest. Following the entry of the order terminating his rights, the father appealed. Finding the record does not clearly and convincingly establish the ground of abandonment by wanton disregard, we reverse the trial court’s determination on that ground; however, the record clearly and convincingly established the other two grounds and that termination of the father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Therefore, we affirm the termination of the father’s parental rights.

Sullivan County Court of Appeals 01/21/20
In Re Ronon G.
M2019-01086-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael E. Spitzer

Mother appeals the termination of her parental rights to her two children on grounds of abandonment by failure to establish a suitable home, substantial noncompliance with permanency plans, and persistence of conditions. We conclude that two grounds were not applicable to Mother’s younger child because she was not removed from Mother’s home. Because at least one ground was supported by the evidence as to each child, and the evidence clearly and convincingly shows that termination is in their best interest, we affirm the overall termination of Mother’s parental rights as modified.

Lewis County Court of Appeals 01/16/20
Jacqueline Graybill McSurley v. Michael Glen McSurley
M2019-02016-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Per Curiam
Trial Court Judge: Judge Phillip R. Robinson

This appeal arises out of a Final Decree of Divorce entered on June 19, 2019, and the denial of the husband’s post-judgment motions. Because the husband did not file his notice of appeal within the time required by Tenn. R. App. P. 4, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 01/16/20
Debra Lovelace, et al. v. Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis
W2019-00453-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rhynette N. Hurd

Plaintiff filed a health care liability action against Defendant hospital following the death of Plaintiff’s husband in 2014. The trial court granted summary judgment to the hospital on two alternative, independent grounds: that the Plaintiff’s expert witness, a registered nurse, was not competent to testify as an expert witness, and that the expert witness failed to provide causation testimony as required to prove liability. Plaintiff appealed the trial court’s ruling about the competency of her expert witness, but she failed to raise the failure to provide causation testimony as an issue on appeal. As no argument was made to challenge a distinct ground for summary judgment, we consider the argument waived and affirm the trial court’s order granting summary judgment.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/16/20
Sherrilyn Kenyon v. Kerrie Ann Plump, Et Al.
M2019-00944-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Andy D. Bennett
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

During a hearing on a party’s motion for a protective order, the trial court summarily found the party to be in contempt of court and sentenced her to spend ten days in jail after she described members in the gallery as pedophiles and abusers of her children.  The party appealed, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment and sentence.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/13/20
Hill Boren Properties, et al. v. Ricky Lee Boren v. Tamara Hill, et al.
W2019-02128-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

Third-party defendants in a lawsuit moved to disqualify the trial judge, asserting that the judge is a material witness in the case and demonstrated bias and prejudice against one of the parties in another case; the trial court denied the motion and the parties filed an expedited interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 10B. Upon a thorough review of the petition for recusal appeal and supporting materials, we affirm the decision of the trial court denying the motion for recusal and remand for further proceedings.

Madison County Court of Appeals 01/10/20
In Re Emma S.
E2019-00718-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert D. Philyaw

In this parental termination case, the juvenile court found two statutory grounds for termination of a mother’s parental rights: substantial noncompliance with the requirements of the permanency plan and persistence of conditions. The juvenile court also found that termination of the mother’s parental rights was in her child’s best interest. Because the record contains clear and convincing evidence to support the grounds for termination and the best interest determination, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 01/09/20
In Re Mahaley P. Et Al.
E2019-00770-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert M. Estep

This is the second appeal concerning the petition filed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) in the Claiborne County Juvenile Court (“Juvenile Court”) to terminate the parental rights of Ed P. (“Father”) to the children, Mahaley P. and Morgan P. (“the Children”). During the first appeal as to Father, this Court reversed the statutory ground of substantial noncompliance with the permanency plan and remanded for the Juvenile Court to make additional findings of fact and conclusions of law related to the two remaining grounds and as relevant to the best interest analysis. See In re Mickeal Z., No. E2018-01069-COA-R3-PT, 2019 WL 337038 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 25, 2019). On April 4, 2019, the Juvenile Court entered an order making additional findings of fact and conclusions of law. Father appeals the April 4, 2019 order of the Juvenile Court terminating his parental rights to the Children upon its determination that DCS had proven by clear and convincing evidence the statutory grounds of persistent conditions and failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody of the Children and that the termination of Father’s parental rights was in the Children’s best interest. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Claiborne County Court of Appeals 01/09/20
Amanda Bliss Gricunas (Harmon) v. Andrew James Gricunas
E2018-02284-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. McClarty
Trial Court Judge: Judge Beth Boniface

In this post-divorce proceeding, the mother filed a petition to modify time sharing arrangements between the mother and the father with regard to the minor children of the parties. The parties have been divorced since 2010. The mother also requested a modification of the father’s child support obligation and asked that the father pay for onehalf of the children’s past and future medical expenses.

Greene County Court of Appeals 01/09/20
In Re O.W., Jr., et al.
W2019-01127-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge Harold W. Horne

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights, arguing that one ground for termination was not proven and that the trial court’s ruling as to that ground did not reflect its independent judgment and did not include sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm five grounds for termination and vacate the ground of failure to manifest an ability and willingness to parent the children. We also affirm the trial court’s finding that termination is in the child’s best interest. As such, we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.

Shelby County Court of Appeals 01/09/20
In Re: A.W.
M2019-00358-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Charles D. Susano, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Darrell Scarlett

In this parental termination case, the petitioners sought termination of the parental rights of mother and the unknown father based upon four statutory grounds, pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2018). Following a hearing on the petition, the trial court entered an amended order holding that there was clear and convincing evidence sufficient to terminate the parents’ rights for abandonment based upon their failure to support and failure to visit the minor child. By the same quantum of proof, the court found that termination is in the child’s best interest. The trial court, however, failed to address all of the grounds for termination raised in the petition. The trial court’s judgment was not final. Accordingly, this appeal is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Rutherford County Court of Appeals 01/08/20
WARREN BROTHERS SASH & DOOR COMPANY v. SANTORO CUSTOM BUILDERS, INC., ET AL.
M2019-00374-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Plaintiff filed a Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 69.04 motion to extend a 2008 default judgment entered against Defendant’s company and Defendant in his personal capacity.  Defendant filed a Rule 60.02(3) motion to set aside the default judgment with respect to himself in his individual capacity, asserting the judgment was void for lack of service. The trial court determined 1) Defendant had been served in the underlying matter, 2) that the judgment in the underlying case was not void, and 3) alternatively, if the judgment was invalid, “exceptional circumstances” justified the court’s refusal to set it aside.  We find that the 2008 default judgment was not void for lack of service and affirm.

Williamson County Court of Appeals 01/08/20
In Re Estate of Gladys Yarboro Lloyd
E2017-02563-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Richard H. Dinkins
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Robert E. Lee Davies

In this probate proceeding, the trial court applied the no contest provision of the will to prevent the beneficiary from inheriting under the will, holding that certain actions and issues raised by the beneficiary triggered the provision. The court also imposed sanctions pursuant to Rule 11.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure against the disinherited beneficiary and her attorney for filing an improper lien on real property of the decedent and in refusing to remove the lien, thereby requiring the estate to seek judicial relief. The beneficiary and her attorney appeal the application of the no contest clause and the imposition of sanctions. Upon our review, we discern no error warranting reversal and accordingly, affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Appeals 01/08/20
Martha L. Butler v. James L. Burrow, Et Al.
M2018-02283-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Joe Thompson

This appeal arises from an action for trespass, injunctive relief, and to quiet title pursuant to a theory of common law adverse possession. The multiple parties are adjoining neighbors and/or affiliated businesses. The centerpiece of this litigation concerns the ownership of a strip of railroad property that is 66 feet wide and comprises 2.9 acres. The railroad removed the track and abandoned the property in 1977, after which all that remained was a berm on which the former track lay. After the track was removed, one of the neighboring owners erected a fence along the center of the entire length of the railroad property. Since that time, the neighboring property owners considered the fence to be the new property line and used the 33 feet of the property on their side of the fence as their respective property. However, the neighboring property owners never paid taxes on the abandoned railroad property. In 2015, one of the three defendants acquired the abandoned property by quitclaim deed from the railroad and removed the fence and leveled the berm in order to install a road to serve a residential development planned for an adjacent 42-acre tract. Thereafter, the owners of two separate adjoining properties filed suit against the three affiliated defendants seeking an injunction and to recover damages caused by flood water that had been diverted onto the plaintiffs’ property due to the removal of the berm. The plaintiffs also asserted claims for trespass and to quiet title to the 33 feet of the former railroad property that adjoined their property. The defendants filed counterclaims alleging that the temporary injunction halted development of the road and caused them to suffer damages. Following a bench trial, the court ruled that the plaintiffs acquired half of the abandoned railroad property through adverse possession. The court also awarded damages against the defendants for removing the fence the plaintiffs used to contain their cattle and for flood damage that resulted from the removal of the berm. The court also ordered the defendants to replace the berm. The defendants appealed. We have determined that Tenn. Code Ann. § 28-2-110(a) bars the plaintiffs’ claim of adverse possession because it is undisputed that they did not pay taxes assessed on the railroad property for more than 20 years. Therefore, we reverse the trial court’s determination that the plaintiffs own half of the railroad property and hold that the defendant who acquired the property from the railroad by quitclaim deed in 2015 is the rightful owner of the entire 2.9-acre tract. We also reverse the award of damages to the plaintiffs for replacement of the fence and restoration of the entire berm; however, we affirm the trial court’s determination that the defendants are jointly and severally liable for diverting water onto the plaintiffs’ property by removing the railroad berm, and remand this claim for the trial court to award damages and/or determine the appropriate measures the defendants should take to remedy the flooding caused by the removal of the berm. Further, the defendants claim for damages resulting from the temporary injunction is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sumner County Court of Appeals 01/07/20
In Re: Draven K.
E2019-00768-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Kenny Armstrong
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy E. Irwin

This is a termination of parental rights case. Mother/Appellant appeals the trial court’s termination of her parental rights to the minor child on the grounds of: (1) abandonment by willful failure to visit and abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(1), §§ 36-1-102(1)(A)(i) (ii); (2) persistence of the conditions that led to the child’s removal, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(3); (3) failure to substantially comply with the reasonable requirements of the permanency plan, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1-113(g)(2); and (4) failure to manifest an ability and willingness to assume custody or financial responsibility for the child, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-1- 113(g)(14). Mother also appeals the trial court’s determination that termination of her parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Because the record does not contain an adjudicatory order of dependency and neglect, we reverse the trial court’s termination of Mother’s parental rights on the ground of persistence of conditions. We affirm the trial court’s termination of Mother’s parental rights on all other grounds and on its finding that termination of Mother’s rights is in the child’s best interest.

Knox County Court of Appeals 01/07/20
Jeff Robinson v. Cody Haynes Et Al.
E2019-00477-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Michael Swiney
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Michael W. Moyers

This is an appeal from a case involving a contract for the sale of real property. The Trial Court disposed of some of the claims by granting summary judgment. Other claims were dismissed or voluntarily non-suited, and the Trial Court attempted to render its judgment final by citing to Rule 54 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure. The Trial Court, however, reserved disposition of a petition for attorney’s fees and an amended petition for attorney’s fees. As a result of the reservation of the disposition of the petitions for attorney’s fees there is no final judgment, and this Court lacks jurisdiction to consider this appeal.

Knox County Court of Appeals 12/27/19
Anne Frost Montgomery Renner v. Robert Bruce Renner, Sr.
E2019-01879-COA-T10B-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge W. Neal McBrayer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerri Bryant

Movant, defendant in a divorce case, seeks accelerated review of the denial of his motion for recusal. He claims a lack of impartiality on the part of the chancellor presiding over the divorce case due to her knowledge of unrelated litigation in which the movant was a party. He contends that the chancellor revealed her lack of impartiality in making adverse credibility determinations against movant, determining movant violated a statutory injunction, and ignoring prior orders and agreements of the parties in making factual findings. Movant also complains of the manner in which the chancellor conducted an emergency hearing, alleging that the chancellor “lacked patience and cooperation with the litigants on th[at] day.” After a de novo review, we affirm the denial of the motion for recusal.

Bradley County Court of Appeals 12/27/19
William Acree Ex Rel. John D. Acree v. Metropolitan Government Of Nashville And Davidson County
M2019-00056-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Frank G. Clement, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

This appeal arises from an action in tort against the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County Tennessee (“the Metropolitan Government”) as the sole defendant. The action is brought by the brother on behalf of the decedent who died after being shot by police officers employed by the Metropolitan Government. The plaintiff asserts that the Metropolitan Government owed a special duty of care to the decedent because the police officers were reckless by failing to conduct a reasonable investigation concerning the decedent’s mental health before attempting to serve a felony warrant.  Moreover, the plaintiff asserts that police officers failed to abide by internal police department guidelines pursuant to which, the complaint alleges, the officers should have withdrawn from the area before the decedent exited the rear door of his house pointing a handgun at police officers. The undisputed material facts are that when the officers attempted to serve the decedent at his residence, the decedent refused to respond to the officers at the front door of his residence and, instead, abruptly exited through the rear door armed with a loaded handgun where the decedent and one of the police officers exchanged gunfire, resulting in the death of the decedent. The trial court summarily dismissed the complaint under the Governmental Tort Liability Act finding, inter alia, that the police officers owed a general duty to the public at large when serving the felony capias; the internal policies and procedures of the Metropolitan Police Department did not establish a duty enforceable in tort; there were no genuine issues of material fact to show the police officers acted recklessly, thus the special duty exception to the public duty doctrine did not apply; and because the special duty doctrine did not apply, the police officers and the Metropolitan Government were immune from liability. The trial court also found the claim was barred by the doctrine of comparative fault based on the undisputed fact that the decedent was at least 50% at fault for his injuries and death because he aimed a loaded weapon at the police officer before the officer opened fire. We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/27/19
Donita Dale Dowden v. Ronald J. Feibus
E2019-00036-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge J.B. Bennett

This appeal arose from post-divorce litigation concerning the trial court’s distribution of marital assets, specifically the distribution of the marital portion of the husband’s federal government pension to the wife. In its divorce decree entered on August 10, 2004, the trial court awarded to the wife “1/2 of [the husband’s] Administrative Law Judge Government Pension through the date of this Final Decree.” Upon the husband’s appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in all respects, including the trial court’s award to the wife of one-half of the marital portion of the husband’s pension. Dowden v. Feibus, No. E2004-02751-COA-R3-CV, 2006 WL 140404 (Tenn. Ct. App. Jan. 18, 2006) (“Dowden I”). The husband sought no further judicial review at that time. Following his retirement from federal employment on May 1, 2017, the husband received correspondence concerning the calculation of the wife’s portion of his pension from the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management (“OPM”). On August 2, 2018, the husband filed a “Motion for Clarification and/or Relief from Judgment” contending, inter alia, that OPM miscalculated the portion of his pension that would be diverted to the wife because the trial court’s final decree was “too vague” and did not “provide sufficient guidance to OPM to allow them to correctly compute” the wife’s interest in the pension. On December 6, 2018, the trial court entered an order finding that there was “no lack of clarity” in its final decree and denying the husband’s motion. The husband has appealed. Having determined that the trial court did not err in denying the husband’s motion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court and remand to the trial court for enforcement of the judgment. We decline to award attorney’s fees on appeal to the wife.

Hamilton County Court of Appeals 12/27/19
Linda Bridges v. Lifford L. Lancaster, M.D., Et Al.
M2019-00352-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Carma Dennis McGee
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Brothers

This is a health care liability action.  The trial court determined that Plaintiff’s evidence did not establish that any act or omission of Defendant caused Plaintiff to suffer an injury that would not have otherwise occurred.  The trial court awarded summary judgment to Defendant physician.  We affirm.

Davidson County Court of Appeals 12/27/19